A British student in Vermont created an international incident by going to a gun shop and attempting to purchase a weapon using a fake ID. The gun shop owner noticed the ID was fake and immediately notified police. The student, Stephen Jackley, fled the scene, backed his car into another vehicle and zoomed off only to be apprehended a mile down the road by Vermont police. The boy said he had been bet $200 that he could not purchase a gun with a fake ID and took up the dare only to wind up arousing concern in two nations.
Jackley attended the University of Worcester which immediately became the scene of a police effort to seal off the campus and conduct a search for weapons. In searching Jackley’s room, police discovered a “suspicious package” which eventually turned out not to be a “suspicious package.” There is talk of extradting Jackley back to Great Britain where other searches undoubtedly will discover “suspicious packages” that are just packages.
The incident is a trivial one, there was no danger, but it reflects a current attitude that any example of stupidity on the part of a student must be construed as a potential threat to society. Students have been taking bets and dares for hundreds of years and will continue doing so. The ironic aspect of the incident is that Mr. Jackley could readily have obtained his weapon through anyone of a hundred sources without ever stepping foot in a gun shop. That is the tragedy, not the silly behavior of a student.
Two weeks of violence and hatred have ripped apart the image of South Africa as a nation which seeks to assume the leadership of Africa. The fury that was unleashed against foreign workers in the country has never previously been witnessed and in the wake of what happened thousands of innocent people are left without a home, without clothes, without a job and without food. Estimates are that up to a 100,000 have been displaced and dozens killed as mobs rampaged through towns killing, beating and burning. At least 50,000 Zimbabweans and Moczambicans have left the country in fear of their lives. There are about five million immigrants in South Africa of whom at least half are from Zimbabwe where President Mugabe has destroyed the economy and viciously attacked opponents.
Reporters have found hundreds of people camped out near police stations huddling under blankets as winter begins. “We are living like dogs,” said a Sudanese refugee, “please tell somebody to help us.” Most aid to refugees is coming from church groups, relief agencies and individuals. Despite making speeches about how terrible everything was, government leaders are not initiating any large-scale relief efforts. The Red Cross has complained about the lack of national coordination to deal with the impact of the riots.
Perhaps, if President Mbeki would exert pressure on his close friend, President Mugabe of Zimbabwe, a fair election in that nation would bring to power a government that would restore the wrecked economy and most probably result in millions of Zimbabweans in South Africa returning home.
The city of Camden in Australia rejected the application to build a Muslim school on “planning grounds” and insisted there was no prejudice intended. Former Sydney Lord Mayor said the rejection was strictly an example of prejudice.
“There’s a vocal group of local residents who are very opposed to this school because of the religious beliefs of the Australian citizens who want to establish the school. That’s not the Australian way and it’s not the Australian law, insisted Jeremy Bingham.” The Council had claimed lack of access to good transportation as the basis for their decision, but most experts note there are many schools in rural areas.
Cardinal George Pell, when asked about the situation responded: “We believe in religious schols. We don’t necessary believe they should be here or there or any other place, but we certainly believe in religious schools.” That is what is termed a ringing support of religious freedom!